Review: “Jurassic Park III”

All up I won’t hesitate to say this is a film you have to see in a cinema. It may lack the plot of the first one but has lots of action, FX and finally comes up with some real suspense. The use of surround sound and lighting/mist make a theatre the perfect environment to watch it. One of the few film winners of the Summer,’, ‘Ok I’ll admit it, its fascinating how much pure sh*t is out at the cinema right now. Summer film box-office takings are down – no surprise there as most of the stuff out, especially since Memorial Day, is basically not worth bothering. The whole “but popcorn movies are above criticism” is one of the worst excuses I’ve heard in ages – granted one tends to be more lenient in judging a film’s technical merits but like any other genre there’s good and bad efforts – the first JP film is an example of a good one, the second is not.

Finally comes JP3, a Summer film that does work as its supposed to and what should’ve been the real sequel to the original. Make no mistake it has all the mistakes of the genre – an almost non-existent plot, bad dialogue, laughable attempts at character development, and plot holes/inconsistencies galore. Still it succeeds in other areas recent films have bombed in – tension, atmosphere, lots of action, a fast pace, some decent humour and good FX.

The original “Jurassic Park” novel by Michael Crichton still remains the ultimate tale – a taut, dark, action thriller crafted with both intelligence and with a dark horror style aimed purely at adults. Spielberg’s first film is a very solid adaptation of that novel and played perfectly on creating a sense of awe whilst eliminating the scientific data which was great in the book but wouldn’t work on screen. Still, the one thing that was lost in the translation was the creepy & almost bloodthirsty sense from the novel which would not have been do-able in a PG-13 rated film and wouldn’t fly with family audiences.

“The Lost World” basically tried to clone the first film but give it a bigger scale – it failed miserably as the action was dull, the characters totally uninteresting and the story grew increasingly laughable. Director Joe Johnston has done the smart move of taking the established film franchise and stripping it down/simplifying it to the darker and more suspense/action-oriented roots of the novel. Johnston realises we’re no longer awed by dinosaurs on screen and moves on – there’s no caressing of herbivores or “staring up in awe” style scenes at these wonderous creations – these are monsters brought to life and that’s how they’re portrayed.

Within the first half hour those who come in contact with them end up nothing more than puddles/spray of blood, something you never really saw in the first two films and from there on its lots of dino action all the way, squeezing in nearly twice the amount of the last film in about 2/3 the runtime.The human characters are of course fodder but with Sam Neill in charge its fun. A much better ‘lead hero’ than Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), the Grant character has progressed since the last film from a man in awe and quiet knowledge to a more cynical, relaxed and take charge hero – in fact he’s an improvement from the first film.

Macy & Leoni make laughable supporting roles into watchable ones, though its there marriage development subplot which is the film’s weakest point – its more a time waster than any actual character development. Alessandro Nivola provides the ‘hunk factor’ for the girls, there’s a kid (as always) but thankfully he’s not annoying like most kids in these, and the rest you can tell right from the start are hopefully going to get eaten (to see who does you’ll have to check out the film). Also great to see Laura Dern in a rather good cameo.

At last we progress with the dinosaurs – one of the other big reasons LW failed is that we saw all the beasties before, T-Rex is great but its been done before and thus as its a known element we’re not so afraid of it. The raptors of course make a return, but otherwise things have certainly moved on. Whilst it looked a little hokey in the ads/stills, here the Spinosaurus is truly freaky – VERY aggressive, very large and very fast.

The lighting and the camera angles, combined with CG and live action elements which truly are hard to distinguish the difference, work perfectly to give the attack scenes real intensity and tension. Not just stopping there, the other big sequence is a 15 minute scene in a giant aviary with Pteranodon’s swooping around and again – the way they have these very aggressive creatures not only fly, but walk as well proves truly creepy.Its not all suspense action though, there’s a surprising amount of good laughs in this including some clever jabs at the franchise itself.

The problem is the humour is out of place, when you’ve got dinosaurs hiding in the trees around you its not a time to crack jokes. There’s also the ending which is very convenient and laughable, combined with other plot inconsistencies – not as many as you might expect but still quite a few. Those who, like me, took the film at face value (ie.a pure Summer blockbuster) will get right into it and ignore those.

Those after a totally serious thriller will not like the suspense/humour mix – but I mean we’re talking a PG-13 film here, with that rating one really can’t get too serious and indeed for that rating this pushes the boundaries as there’s some dark stuff I’m quite surprised that made it through.

All up I won’t hesitate to say this is a film you have to see in a cinema. It may lack the plot of the first one but has lots of action, FX and finally comes up with some real suspense. The use of surround sound and lighting/mist make a theatre the perfect environment to watch it. One of the few film winners of the Summer,